Russia’s violation of Turkish airspace over the weekend “does not look like an accident”, Nato has said.
Russia says Saturday’s incursion was brief and due to bad weather. It is examining claims of another violation.
Turkey’s army also says an unidentified fighter jet locked its radar on to eight of its jets on Monday.
It echoes a similar incident on Sunday, when an unidentified Mig-29 – which analysts say may have been Syrian – locked its radar onto Turkish jets for more than five minutes over the Turkish-Syrian border. Missile systems inside Syria were also locked on to Turkish planes for more than four minutes on Monday, the Turkish military says.
The incidents involving Mig-29 aircraft “illuminating” Turkish F-16 jets with their radars – a preliminary to actually engaging them – suggests a new assertiveness on the part of the Syrian air force.
Russia, as far as we know, has not deployed Mig-29s as part of its air expeditionary force to Syria. It has though supplied its Syrian counterpart with the aircraft in the past. Some – at least – of Syria’s Mig-29s are still operational; indeed, as a fighter rather than a ground attack aircraft, they have flown a lot less during Syria’s protracted civil war. Syria and Turkey have a difficult history of incidents over recent years. In 2012, Syrian missiles shot down a Turkish Phantom jet off the Mediterranean coast.